The Nikon Coolpix P 300

nikon_coolpix_p300.jpg

On this last trip, I had an opportunity to carry the new Nikon Coolpix P300 and put it through its paces. A truly pocketable, high quality compact camera has been a dream of mine for some time now, and while I’m not ready to say my dream has come true, it’s gotten a lot closer.

I’ll post the specs at the end of this entry, but everyone wants to know how it stacks up against the closest competitor, the Canon S95.  The answer, in short, is pretty well.

Let’s look at the Nikon’s shortcomings first.  The Canon still has a larger sensor, it shoots RAW, and it has a more robust set of effects, and of course, Canon is very good about making waterproof cases for seemingly every compact it puts out.

The P 300 has a wider lens (24mm vs. 28), it’s faster (f/1.8 at the wide end vs. f/2), higher res video (1080p 30fps vs. 720 at 24fps). The P300 allows you to zoom while shooting video (nice!), locks the autoexposure down the minute you do video (about time!). The P300 also has a cool 120 fps mode for slow-mo, albeit only in VGA resolution.

The Nikon is about $75 cheaper, give or take.

Size-wise, it’s close. I haven’t shot the S95 but the P300 handled well and I’m pleased with it (I loved the P 7000 too, but it’s a brick and cannot be classified as “pocketable”). Do I miss RAW? Kinda, but this is a grab shot camera and it’s not a deal breaker for me.

Here’s the deal, though. With smartphones and all their apps absolutely kicking the asses of compact camera sales, one wonders why camera manufacturers are not pulling out all the stops to load as much stuff into these compacts as possible to make sure they can compete? Not with other compact cameras, but with smartphones!

Why not put an interval timer in a camera like this, so we can shoot timelapses? That’s one feature that smartphones don’t allow, and it’s a big deal.  Why not offer in camera HDR?  C’mon. The time to pull punches in this competitive market is over.

So while the P300 may not be a total homerun, it’s a good stand-up triple, and that’s earned it a pouch on my belt!

Here’s the specs:

Price$329.95*MSRP

4 / 5

Supplied Accessories

  • Camera Strap AN-CP19
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
  • Charging AC Adapter EH-69P
  • UC-E6 USB Cable
  • Audio Video Cable EG-CP16
  • Nikon ViewNX 2 Software CD

Specifications

  • Type
    Compact Digital Camera 
  • Effective Pixels
    12.2 million 
  • Image Sensor
    CMOS 
  • Sensor Size
    1/2.3 in. 
  • Total Pixels
    12.75 million (approx.) 
  • Lens
    4.2x optical Zoom, NIKKOR glass lens
  • Lens Focal Length
    4.3-17.9mm (angle of view equivalent to that of 24-100mm lens in 35mm [135] format) 
  • Lens f/-number
    f/1.8-4.9 
  • Lens Construction
    7 elements in 6 groups 
  • Lens Zoom
    4.2x 
  • Digital Zoom
    Up to 2x (angle of view equivalent to that of approx. 200mm lens in 35mm [135] format) 
  • Vibration Reduction
    Lens-shift VR 
  • Autofocus (AF)
    Contrast-detect AF
  • Autofocus (AF) Focus-area selection
    Auto (9-area automatic selection)

     Center

    Face priority

    Face priority tracking

    Manual with 99 focus areas

    Subject tracking

     
  • Focus Range
    [W]: Approx. 1 ft. (30 cm.) to infinity

     

    [T]: Approx. 2 ft. (60 cm.) to infinity

    Macro close-up mode: [W]: Approx. 1.2 in. (3 cm.) to infinity

     
  • Focus Lock
    Yes
     
  • Maximum Autofocus Areas/Points
    9
     
  • Monitor Size
    3.0 in. diagonal
     
  • Monitor Type
    TFT-LCD with Anti-reflection coating
     
  • Monitor Resolution
    921,000-dots
     
  • Monitor Frame coverage (shooting mode)
    100% horizontal (Approx.)

     

    100% vertical (Approx.)

     
  • Monitor Frame coverage (playback mode)
    100% horizontal (Approx.)
     
  • Storage Media
    SD memory card

     

    SDHC memory card

    SDXC memory card

     
  • Internal Memory
    Approx. 90MB
     
  • Storage File System
    DCF

     

    EXIF 2.3

    DPOF compliant

     
  • Storage File formats
    Still pictures: JPEG

     

    Sound files (Voice Memo): WAV

     
  • Movie
    Audio file format: AAC stereo

     

    Full HD: 1920x1080p / 30fps

    Movie file format: MPEG-4 AVC H.264

     
  • Voice Memo Function
    Yes
     
  • Image Size (pixels)
    4000 x 3000 (12M)
     
  • ISO Sensitivity
    ISO 160-3200

     

    Auto (auto gain ISO 160-1600)

    Fixed range auto (ISO 160-400, 160-800)

     
  • Lowest ISO Sensitivity
    160
     
  • Highest ISO Sensitivity
    3200
     
  • Exposure Metering
    224-segment matrix, center-weighted
     
  • Exposure Control
    Programmed auto exposure with flexible program

     

    aperture-priority auto

    exposure bracketing

    Exposure compensation (-2.0 to +2.0 EV in steps of 1/3 EV) 

    manual

    motion detection

    shutter priority auto

     
  • Exposure Modes
    Aperture-Priority Auto (A)

     

    Manual (M)

    Programmed Auto (P)

    Shutter-Priority Auto (S)

     
  • Automatic Exposure Scene Modes
    Yes
     
  • Scene Modes
    Back Light

     

    Beach

    Black and White Copy

    Close Up

    Dusk/Dawn

    Fireworks Show

    Food

    Landscape

    Museum

    Night Landscape

    Night Portrait

    Panorama

    Party/Indoor

    Pet Portrait

    Portrait

    Scene Auto Selector

    Snow

    Special Effects

    Sports

    Sunset

     
  • In-Camera Image Editing
    Crop

     

    D-Lighting

    Filter Effects

    Quick retouch

    Skin softening

    Small Pic

     
  • Exposure Compensation
    ± 2 EV in steps of 1/3
     
  • Exposure Lock
    Yes
     
  • Exposure Bracketing
    Yes
     
  • White Balance
    Auto

     

    Manual

     
  • Shutter
    Mechanical and CMOS electronic shutter
     
  • Shutter Speed
    1/2000-8 sec. (M mode)
     
  • Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution
    Up to 7 shots at approx. 8 frames per second
     
  • Continuous Shooting Options
    Continuous

     

    Continuous H 60

    Continuous H 120

     
  • Self-timer
    Can be selected from 10 and 2 seconds duration
     
  • Built-in flash Range (approx.) (ISO sensitivity: Auto)
    [W]: 0.5 to 6.5m (1 ft. 8in. to 21ft.)

     

    [T]: 0.5 to 2.5m (1ft. 8in. to 8ft. 2in.)

     
  • Built-in Flash Control
    TTL auto flash with monitor preflashes
     
  • Built-in Flash
    Yes
     
  • Interface
    Hi-speed USB
     
  • Interface Data transfer protocol
    MTP

     

    PTP

     
  • Video Output
    NTSC

     

    PAL

     
  • HDMI Output
    480p

     

    720p

    1080i

     
  • I/O terminal
    Audio/video (A/V) output

     

    Digital I/O (USB)

    HDMI Mini Connector (HDMI output)

     
  • Supported Languages
    Arabic

     

    Czech

    Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) 

    Danish

    Dutch

    English

    Finnish

    French

    German

    Greek

    Hungarian

    Indonesian

    Italian

    Japanese

    Korean

    Norwegian

    Polish

    Portugese

    Romanian

    Russian

    Spanish

    Swedish

    Thai

    Turkish

    Ukranian

     
  • Power Sources
    One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12 (supplied)
     
  • Charging Time
    4 hours (when using Charging AC Adapter EH-69P)(Approx.)
     
  • Battery / Batteries
    Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
     
  • Battery Life (shots per charge)
    Nikon Rechargeable:

     

    240 shots (CIPA)

     

     
  • Tripod Socket
    ¼ (ISO 1222)
     
  • Approx. Dimensions
    Height: 2.3 in. (58.3mm)

     

    Width: 4.1 in. (103mm)

    Depth: 1.3 in. (32mm)

    Excluding projections. Method of noting dimensions and weight is in accordance with CIPA DCG-005-2009 guideline.

     
  • Approx. Weight
    6.7 oz. (189g)

     

    with battery and SD memory card. Method of noting dimensions and weight is in accordance with CIPA DCG-005-2009 guideline.

     
  • Operating environment
    Temperature: 0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F)
     
  • Supplied Accessories
    • Camera Strap AN-CP19
    • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL12
    • Charging AC Adapter EH-69P
    • UC-E6 USB Cable
    • Audio Video Cable EG-CP16
    • Nikon ViewNX 2 Software CD

    *Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area.

     

 


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7 Comments

  1. Greg Vaughn April 4, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    How is the startup time, shutter lag and shot-to-shot time? Nikon’s website says “ultrafast startup and autofocus” on this one. Too many point & shoot cameras seem to offer superfluous gee-gaws but don’t work fast enough to get snapshots of active kids.

    • Bob Krist April 4, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      Greg: The startup and responsiveness of the shutter is pretty good for a point and shoot. But, besides camera manufacturers’ hyperbole, might your expectations also be a little unrealistic?

      To use a point and shoot to capture active kids is kind of like using a view camera for sports photography….you can do it, but it’s not the ideal tool for the job. That being said, this one responds fairly quickly….and if you medicate the kids, it’ll be plenty fast:-).

  2. Skunkabilly April 4, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    This looks pretty sweet. I’m skeptical of the smaller sensor, but in this age, I think 720p is kind of required for a pocket camera, which the S90 sadly lacks.

    I think the 24mm wide is enough for me, as an outdoorsman, to go for this camera. A 24mm lens might trump better lowlight performance. I love my S90 but a 24mm would be great for the outdoors!!

    Would love to see some of the snaps you’ve been getting with this!

    • Bob Krist April 4, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Skunk: 720p is a minimum, I would think, and the S95 has that. This one has 1080p, even better. The question to ask yourself vis-a-vis this camera is whether you want the RAW capability or not. If you do, then the Canon is the way to go. I don’t know why Nikon didn’t go the whole way and put in RAW and an interval timer into this camera, which would have made it an S95 killer, but they didn’t.

  3. David Kay April 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Bob, Sounds interesting. I have been carrying the Oly XZ-1 for about a month and find it surprizingly capable. It does shoot RAM, but a tad larger and heavier than the Nikon. The lens does not fully retract, but it is fast, so requres a larger pocket. Confess I am so old fashion that I have not tried the video.

  4. Christopher Fuller April 8, 2011 at 12:25 am #

    Bob:

    Thanks for the post. I was recently researching the compact segment and settled on the Samsung TL500 (EX1 outside of America). It has a wide zoom that starts at 24 1.8 and ends at 72 2.4. Not as long as the P300, but the wide aperture is great. It also shoots RAW and has some nice in-camera effects that can be applied to RAW and jpeg files after capture(although not as snazzy as Olympus’ art filters). It has among the best AWB that I have used in a compact camera and takes great black and white photos (you can also convert color pics after the fact as well). It also does HDR but only by blending two jpegs together; this function does not work in RAW. It is designed to compete more against the Panasonic LX5 so it is not as compact as the P300 or S95.

    A big negative for many is that Samsung, inexplicably, did not provide a minimum 720p video option; it is only standard 640×480 video. This is not important to me as I do my HD video on another small camera, but this will be a deal-breaker for others.

    All in all, this is a great little camera for pictures. Not so great for video.

  5. Chris Zeller August 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Thanks for the review Bob, I really appreciate reading your blog.

    I have not tried the P300, but I have an S95. Its too bad that Nikon decided not to go with the larger sensor and RAW capabilities, it would have been nice to go all Nikon to standardize my workflow. I really view these cameras as a complement to any SLR camera shooter and they should work to build them as a system that ties them together (through the image processing software etc.). The S95 really is like having an SLR in your pocket in the sense that all the important classical camera controls are present and easily accessible. Manual aperature and shutter speed through 2 seperate dials, flash exposure compensation, focus area selection, onscreen rule of thirds grid etc ater there just like on my DSLR. The one thing that the S95 has that the P300 doesn’t is the front lens ring dial and manual focus. This is a nice touch that makes it feel like a real camera. The S95 also does HDR which is fun. The main shortcomming is zooming while in video. why they didn’t think this was important is beyond me. I love not having to tote my SLR on ski and climbing trips without giving up the flexibility to be creative in nature.

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